Aug 28, 1961 - Europe 1961    No Comments

London, Day 1

We had breakfast in the dining room – mainly because if you eat there, you can have an “English” breakfast, while in your room, you can only get a Continental breakfast.

We rode the subway to Russell Square to meet our tour bus. It started promptly, and we had a 3-hour trip of the western part of London. It was a lovely, sunny day and a very good tour. The main stops were at Westminster Abbey & at Buckingham Palace for the changing of the guards at 11:30. The Abbey was more interesting than I’d expected – we had a very good guide – & the changing of the guard was about what we’d expected – colorful, crowded, mildly exciting.

Before this tour ended, the bus stopped for about 15 minutes (an unscheduled stop) at Tate Gallery. As usual, Harry & Allen scooted down the street to the nearest bar, while Jeannette & I went into the gallery. I spent my time in the sculpture gallery – enjoying some pieces by R0din, in particular.

We had lunch at a hotel on Russell Square after which Allen left us for the horse races while we headed for the silver vaults. While looking at the map, standing on a corner, a nice-looking girl asked if she could help – she could because we couldn’t locate East or West. Everyone is very helpful about directions – tho’ often their idea of a “short” walk is longer than we like. Imagine Harry’s & my amazement the night before in the subway when a Cockney woman came up & asked us the way to Charing Cross! We’d been in town a full half-day.

We did walk to the vaults (which incidentally our guide had never heard of) and spent the afternoon looking at the shops. They are simply amazing – it’s hard to make a choice. But we (Harry & I) finally settled on a wine cooler for Bud & Nelwyn. Jeannette had bought several things.

We caught a cab to Piccadilly Circus to buy theater tickets, then went to Fortnum & Mason for tea. Didn’t get to to see much of the store – the first floor was a fancy foods department – carpeted yet!

Went out the back thru Regent Square to the Cunard Office to see about our stateroom, then a bus back to the hotel.

We were plenty tired but after a bath & a couple of stiff drinks, revived. We all caught a cab to a restaurant on Curzon Street recommended for oysters & lobsters. It was small, hot, crowded & understaffed. After an hour’s wait we had a mediocre meal.

Went back to Speakers’ Corner at Marble Arch and listened to several speakers – some on politics, some on religion, another on racial discrimination. It was amazing. The hecklers would interrupt, boo, argue amongst themselves – quite a free-for-all. We stayed for about an hour before walking the 2 blocks to the hotel.

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